austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

If it's the last thing we ever do

When I say there was a line at the Columbus Zoo I am understating matters. There was a lot of line. More line than that. If I say there were three lines lined up after one another, would you accept it? I'd be exaggerating some. Only a little. But even before then, when we got to the parking lot, bunny_hugger dreaded whether we could get to the attractions we wanted to see before we'd have to leave to get to Coon's Candy. The line was fearsome, and moving slowly, if at all. bunny_hugger challenged me to estimate how long a wait it would be. I undershot, as ever I do, which didn't reassure her, as ever it does not.

But there were signs of good line management. As people waited, Zoo employees came out with little dry-erase boards so that people could figure out what tickets they meant to purchase, and how many of them, and write that down. So people could get all their fussing and dithering done long before they reached the counter. Just pay and get going. Great idea, and I gave them high marks for organization.

The trouble: by the time people got up to the counter they saw the admission ticket options were more numerous and complicated than they realized far back in line with just a guide to ask for advice, orally. So they would re-debate their choices and dither anyway. Well, it saved time for people who didn't want to renegotiate their admissions, at least. We were among them. We should have renegotiated, though. We'd bought park admission, and supposed that we would buy ride tickets a la carte because given the queue there was no way we'd get more than maybe one ride on the roller coaster and carousel.

Not so. The amusement park area turned out to be sparsely populated, so we'd have plenty of time to ride and even re-ride things, and to ride things of maybe marginal interest. Fortunately we could get wristbands at a booth inside which had nobody waiting at it until we went up to buy wristbands, at which point a mob of roughly 800 ditherers converged just ahead of us. Also, it was incredibly hot and sunny, much hotter and sunnier than we expected it to be, and I don't think we had sunscreen with us because the weather forecasts all weekend had been for cloudy and overcast and thunderstormy. (It had thunderstormed one night, too, supporting the believability of the overall forecast.) Not a hint of cloud now. It was bright enough that if we had a couple of mirrors we could have reflected it back and set the sun on fire.

Most of the former amusement park area is separate from the zoo, but the animals do encroach on the rides area. We stopped over by one enclosure where some keepers were putting on a little show and I recognized the animal before anyone said: they had binturongs. Some of the most active binturongs I've seen, too, at least compared to the ones in the Singapore Zoo that were housed with the otters and always looked like they had been out too late for the previous fourteen nights straight. Might be they were putting on a show. Also, that thing about them smelling like buttered popcorn? Absolutely true. We got a really strong whiff of it in the breeze and the zookeeper admitted, yeah, sometimes they do a little marking and then you really get the popcorn scent.

To rides! Our highest priority, the thing that had always had us wanting to go to the zoo, was the Sea Dragon roller coaster. This was the first year we could ride it after Morphicon/AnthrOhio as previous years the convention was too early in the season for the roller coaster to be open. This was a good year to meet the ride, too: it's the 60th anniversary of the ride's opening. The roller coaster itself is set back and rolls over top of the water park's lazy river ride, which didn't have anyone on it when we first approached. It'd get people floating off in inflated doughnuts soon enough, drinks in hand. Or some people just walking down the lazy river which seems like missing the point. Also on the banks of the river was a nesting duck that, apparently, is unnoticed enough that it doesn't feel hassled by people riding the lazy river.

Sea Dragon is your classic small wooden roller coaster, a mere 35 feet high and looping back and forth repeatedly. It's got a curved station for loading and unloading, one of those little bits of personality I always like. The ride's also dispatched and braked by classic long wooden levers. The front seat of the train was taped off, a disappointment. The restraining bars were stuck closed. (If the restraints on a roller coaster break they almost always get stuck closed.) We could ride in the second car, at least. Quite a good ride, although aren't all wooden roller coasters pretty good rides?

Trivia: Henry Ford was shocked when his gift of a Model T to neighbor Rabbi Leo Franklin was returned in protest. Ford phoned to ask, ``What's wrong, Dr Franklin? Has anything come between us?'' Source: Henry and Edsel: The Creation of the Ford Empire, Richard Bak.

Currently Reading: Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine, Sarah Lohman.

PS: How June 2017 Treated My Mathematics Blog, reviewing the statistics of stuff.

Tags: amusement parks, columbus zoo

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